The Argungu Fishing festival is one notable festival that is domiciled in the northern part of Nigeria. The festival is an annual 4-day event that is held in Argungu Council in Kebbi State between February and March after the conclusion of all farming works. Argungu as a town became prominent in the 18th century after it was conquered by the Fulani and the Gwandu people, although none of their conquerors could completely control them.
According to a post of AirKhaleej, the festival started initially in the form of religious rights prior to the time of Surame Gungu of Kebbi Kingdom. 4 festivals namely Gyayan Ruwa, Fashin Ruwa, Gyayan Gari and Shan Kabowa are believed to have made way for the present day Argungu fishing festival. There has been several reports in many publications that the Argungu fishing festival began in 1934, but according to the post on AirKhaleej, the attendance of a prominent non- Argungu man who was invited by the then Emir of Argungu to the 1934 event marked the beginning of the exposure of the festival to the country and the international community. It was the Emir and his council that organized the grand fishing festival to entertain the guest in their midst.
From 1934 to date, the festival has attracted millions of people to its grounds and is often graced by dignitaries including heads of states. During the time of Gen. Yakubu Gowon as Nigerian Head of State, he attended the festival alongside his Nigerien counterpart Alh. Diori Hammani. Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo is said to have graced the occasion 4 times. The attendance of these government officials is said to have led to an increase in governments’ participation in the festival.
The Argungu fishing festival is just a part of the grand event that takes place during the Argungu festival. Other events include
Agricultural Show Fishing competition
Craft exhibition Wrestling competition
Cultural show Instrumental symphonies
Canoe race Swimming competition
The fishing competition happens to be the highlight of the festival.
The Festival Proper
As a rule, the participants in the festival are not allowed to use modern fishing instruments or equipment. Instead, they can chose to use their hands or gourds or the traditional fishing instruments for the fishing. The goal is to catch the biggest fish and be rewarded with a huge cash prize.
According to Wikipedia, the 2006 festival’s biggest fish weighed about 80kg.
At the sound of a gun, the participants rush into the water with their fishing gear and begin their search.
There has been reports in some quarters that the fishing part of the festival has been banned for some reasons. The authenticity of the reports is yet to be ascertained.
In all, the Argungu fishing festival remains a notable Nigerian cultural festival.